9. U Mad?
Rainbow Dash remained in her house for the next month, coming out only rarely to do her job as weather manager for Ponyville. It was discovered she actually didn't have to leave home to do it anymore, as her ability to manipulate weather had grown. She could call the clouds into place from a distance, and even generate lightning from her own body to begin a storm. Most ponies didn't notice that she was no longer coming out to do her job...except for the days where there was an unexpected, unannounced shower, even though they never lasted long.
Twilight Sparkle and the others, however, were very worried about their friend. Having heard from Scootaloo about what triggered the first rainsquall, they knew that each new shower was another storm of weeping from their friend, and their concern drove most of them to distraction.
At the end of the month, as the five sat in the library discussing the problem, there was a knock on the door. "I'll get it!" Spike spoke up, running to the door.
Glancing at the clock, Twilight mumbled, "I wonder who would come here this early? It's not even light out."
Pinkie Pie giggled. "Maybe Princess Luna wants to talk to you about something."
Twilight laughed. "That would be the day."
Spike's voice came from the front door. "Rainbow Dash! You're here!"
Everypony charged to the front door...finding nobody there. Twilight glowered at Spike. "Spike! Why would you trick us like tha-" Something tackled Twilight from above, knocking her to the side.
"Gotcha!" Rainbow Dash shouted happily.
Spike smiled. "Because she told me to."
Everyone piled into a group hug, welcoming Rainbow Dash among them. Although she was smiling, she obviously hadn't been taking care of herself. Her mane and tail were rather firty, and quite snarled. Her coat had an unhealthy greyish tint, and her eyes were red from weeping. Still, she looked happy to see everyone.
Rarity was the first to notice her altered appearance. "Rainbow Dash, you haven't been taking care of yourself! Come, this calls for a trip to the spa." She began to push Rainbow Dash towards the spa as the others followed.
"Aw, come on Rarity, the spa? You're not gonna do me up all girly, are you?"
"Not at all, Rainbow Dash. This is a matter of health!" Rarity glanced towards Spike. "Spike, be a dear and run ahead and let the spa know we have an emergency, would you?"
"Right away Rarity!" Spike dashed off.
Between cajoling, wheedling, pleading, and eventual straight levitation, they managed to get Rainbow Dash to the spa to have her seen to. They all also enjoyed a treatment, althoguh Spike grumbled about being pushed out under the 'girls only' rule. At last they were all relaxing in the aromatherapy bath at the end.
Rainbow Dash looked much better. Although her coloration was still greyish - there wasn't much that could be done for it in one sitting - the snarls had been combed out of her mane and tail and their luster restored. A facial treatment had also helped with the bags under her eyes, as well as getting some of the redness out. She sighed as she relaxed, then turned to the others. "So what's new with all of you?"
"Not much," Twilight said. "Mostly been doing some - more or less - random magic research, learning new spells."
"Throwing parties," Pinkie Pie stated. "Though they haven't been as fun."
"Just been tending to the animals," Fluttershy said quietly.
"It's apple buckin season, so it's all work at Sweet Apple Acres," Applejack said calmly.
"Just running my shop for the most part," Rarity said, "and occasionaly hunting for more gems for my new designs."
Twilight chuckled. "Spike's always happy to help you with those." Then she winced, and everyone got quiet, glancing towards Rainbow Dash.
She didn't seem to notice. "So how are things going between you and Spike, Rarity?"
Rarity attempted to side step the question. "Oh, well, you know...the usual..."
Rainbow Dash brought her hoof down. "What's with you all? The moment the subject turns to romance, you act like someone's just spoken something taboo!" She blinked for a moment. "Oh, I see..." She sighed. "It's cause I'm here, right?"
Fluttershy was the first to speak. "We know how much pain you're in, being seperated from...him. We...we didn't want to make it worse."
"Being seperated from him, without even being able to say goodbye...it's a knife in my heart every day." Rainbow Dash looked at the others. "But that pain keeping you all from looking - and it's not just talking about it, I can tell by your faces you haven't been looking - that's just a twist of the knife! My biggest regret is that I didn't take advantage of every moment we could have had together. I wouldn't be able to bear it if all of you made my mistake." She turned to Rarity. "You know how Spike feels about you?"
Rarity nodded. "I...I have for a while now."
"Do you feel the same way?"
Rarity backpeddaled. "It's not exactly polite to-"
"Life's to short for manners, Rarity. You never know what moment might be the last. Now answer the question."
Rarity gulped and looked down, blushing. Finally, she nodded.
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Then please, for my sake, don't wait forever. Find out where it can go." She turned to the others. "What about the rest of you?"
Applejack shrugged. "I just can't seem to find the right stallion, you know? I'm sure he's out there somewhere, but I ain't met him yet."
Pinkie Pie shook her head. "Nopony for me, either. There have been a few who came around...but they weren't looking for something permanent." Pinkie Pie glowered. "Just because I like to party doesn't mean I'm easy."
Twilight shrugged her shoulders. "Haven't been looking. Spent most of my time in the library...when I haven't been busy with my new administrative duties as the Mayor's aide."
"Congrats, Twilight!" Rainbow Dash turned to Fluttershy. "What about you?"
She shook a little. "I...I haven't been looking. There have been a few ponies who asked me out, but..." She shuddered. "The nightmare still haunts me."
The others - except for Rainbow Dash - all shuddered. "Don't mention nightmares," they said simultaneously.
"Ah..." Rainbow Dash nodded. She knew which nightmare they were talking about. "THose still haunt all of you, don't they?"
"Not the cupcakes..."
The others all turned to Pinkie Pie. "Do I...want to know?" Twilight asked.
Pinkie Pie shook her head vigorously.
Once they were all done at the spa, they headed out. Rainbow Dash stretched her wings. "I'm going to go for a quick flight, make sure I'm still in shape...then I think I'm going to head back home. I'm...just so tired." Spreading her wings she took off. "See you all later!"
Rarity turned towards where Spike approached. "If you'll excuse me, Twilight, I think I'm going to borrow Spike for the day. I think we'll go on a picnic." She turned. "Spikey-wikey! Are you free today?" She walked off towards him.
Fluttershy, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight walked together a ways. "Rainbow Dash still doesn't look like she's recovered at all," Twilight said quietly.
"She seems lost," Pinkie Pie agreed.
Fluttershy nodded quietly, having nothing to add.
"Sounds to me like she needs something to work for," Applejack said. "A real challenge. If she hadn't gotten so fast, I'da challenged her to race me at the runnin of the leaves again...but she'd beat me easy. Heck, she'd beat every pony in Equestria."
Twilight froze, her eyes wide. A glimmer of an idea was visibly forming. "Excuse me girls...I need to write a letter." She quickly heads for home, leaving the others to disperse, confused.
Two weeks later, late at night, Rainbow Dash was startled to hear a knock at her door. "WHo could that be," she grumbled sleepily. She opened the door...and gaped. "Princess Luna! Come in, please."
Luna entered quietly. "Thank you, Rainbow Dash," she replied, not using the royal canterlot voice. "We had feared you would not wish to see us."
Rainbow Dash blinked. "Why?"
"Your outburst upon your return..."
Rainbow Dash dismissed that with a wave of her hoof. "Luna, I wouldn't blame you for your sister's mistake. It's Celestia I don't want to deal with again, not you."
Luna smiled. "Thank you, Rainbow Dash." She sighed. "Unfortunately, it is in response to something our sister has done that brings us here today."
"Oh?" Rainbow Dash asked cautiously.
"This year, as an addendum to the running of the leaves, Celestia has organized another series of events she is calling...an olympics. It will be a series of challenges in strength, speed, agility, skill, and talent. Everypony across Equestria will be there, even those from countries beyond Equestria. Each country leader has selected a team of ponies to be their champions. Celestia is alos selecting her champions...and we would like you to be ours." Luna looked at Rainbow Dash. "We know you to be strong, fast, and to have great endurance. As the main event this olympics will be a race around the entire globe...we would ask of you, will you champion us?"
Rainbow Dash grinned. "You're competeing with your sister here?" At Luna's nod, Rainbow Dash whooped. "A race around the world? Chance to show up everyone, Celestia included? Count me IN!"
Luna smiled. "Thank you Rainbow Dash." Luna pulled out an outfit Rainbow Dash recognized...the uniform of the Shadowbolts. "We have selected a few others to compete alongside you, and we would be honored if you wore this...as our team's captain." When Rainbow Dash began to laugh, Luna smiled widely. "Yes, we are aware of the irony...especially as our Sister has asked Twilight Sparkle to be her champion in the magic event."
Rainbow Dash blinked slowly. "Is that so..." she said quietly. She pulled the uniform on. "In that case, I'd better go practice with the team...and make sure to give you the victory." Taking wing, she took off, getting herself back into shape.
The Running of the Leaves came around, and the teams were assembled. Five other countries had sent teams to represent them, and leaders or ambassadors had come with to watch the competition. The main focus though were the two teams representing Equestria. Under Celestia, the Sun Riders included Twilight Sparkle for magic, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Spike for talent, Applejack for strength...and their captain for speed. The captian remained covered completely in a brown robe with the sun symbol on it, and rarely spoke.
The Shadow Bolts all remained in their uniforms, impossible to recognize. Only Princess Luna and the team itself knew the full lineup. Rainbow Dash was captain, for the speed events. For the strength events, they had Big Macintosh. For talent, they had Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. For magic, they had Trixie...who, although she had trained her magic a great deal, had to repeatedly be told not to reveal her identity. Trixie had even added a glamour spell to the Shadowbolt outfits. As long as they didn't remove the mask aspects, no one would be able to tell who they were. For special challenges...they had Fluttershy.
The olympics went off without a hitch. Princess Celestia and her sister officially announced the beginning of the olympics together, and the events were on.
It quickly became clear that the two Equestria teams had everyone else completely outmatched. In strength, Applejack came out in the lead, with the disguised Big Macintosh in close second. In the magic challenge, Twilight Sparkle won, no contest...although she lost some points in the competitive round when Trixie caught her with a fear spell, making her briefly remember the nightmare. In talent, Rarity and Spike performed an ancient tragic love story directed by Pinkie Pie...although she ahd to give them a nudge several times as the nature of the scene distracted them from completing the scene. For the Shadowbolts, Scootaloo did tricks on a stage designed by Applebloom, and Sweetie Belle sang. It took a while to convince them, but Rainbow Dash managed to convince them with the reminder that no one would know it was them, and the goal was to win for Princess Luna.
The special challenge was chosen at random...and turned out to be herding cats. The Shadowbolts were the only team that managed to complete the challenge. This left Shadowbolts and Sun Rifers tied as things moved to the final event...the race around the world.
Rainbow Dash found herself in the line next to the robed captain. She smirked, sure she had this in the bag. The mayor of Ponyville announced the beginning of the race.
"Everyone, it is my pleasure to announce the last event of the first Equestria Olympics! Given the huge success of this years events, there is suggestion that this will become an annual event! But now, we come to the final event...the race around the world! Each runner will wear a mystic collar which will allow us to see the running and track their progress! Since this is an extension of the running of the leaves, this is a foot race. Flying is expressly forbidden. Pegasi in the race will have their wings bound to prevent cheating." Rainbow Dash smirked at this, especially when she saw the dismay in the other racing pegasi. "Now, to your positions!"
Once each racer was prepared, the mayor held up the flag. "Ready...set..." The Mayor dashed to a good distance away from all the racers and waved the flag. "GO!"
Dash took off at an easy jog which left most of the other racers in the dust. The only racer that kept up was her opponent from the Sun riders. He showed no signs of strain as he easily kept up with her, staying right by her side. She glared at him and began to pour on the speed.
Back at the arena, Twilight pushed her way to the observation deck. "How's it going?" she asked.
Celestia responded. "The two captain's of sun and shadow have just hit the first quarter mark. The rest of the runners are still back at the 1/16 mark."
Luna smiled. "We would say that it is between the two of them, then."
Back with the racers, the masked racer was easily keeping up with Dash. She grinned. "What have they been feeding you, Racer X?" she asked jokingly.
The masked racer simply tossed his head.
Dash grinned wider. "Let's see you keep up with this, then!" She triggered her boost, immediately shifting into a Sonic Rainboom...only to have the other racer easily match her, pace for pace.
Before long, as each of them were at their top speed, they had rounded the third checkpoint mark and were in the final stretch. A communication reached both of them. "It seems you two are evenly matched. As such, the final tally will be determined first by who crosses the finish line first and - if that is equal - who stops closest to the finish line, to test your control."
Dash smirked at the other racer. "Let's see how fast you can really run...and stop!" She poured it on, but they matched stride for stride as they approached the finish line. Then, as they crossed it together, they both dug in their hooves, grinding to a halt. As dust billowed around them, magic measured the completion and the announcement was given. It was a complete tie!
Dash saw the brown sun cloak flying through the air, and turned towards her opponent. She wanted to see who could keep up with her so well.
As the dust cleared, she saw her opponent. He was a dark blue earth pony, his mane and tail slicked back like spines. His cutie mark was seven gems she recognized. But those emerald green eyes and that smile could only be one person.
"S...Sonic?" Dash gasped out, throwing her hood back.
As everyone else gasped, Sonic smirked. "Hey Dash! Miss me?" Dash ran up and rubbed her neck against his in a pony hug. "I'll take that as a yes," Sonic said happily. Then he pulled back and showed her how much he had missed her, placing a kiss on her lips.
The crowd went wild! By the time the cheering died down, Sonic and Dash had been carried around the arena several times by crazed fans. As the excitement died down - only to pick back up in the furor that started when the rest of the Shadowbolt line up was revealed - Sonic and Dash were brought before the Princesses. Finally, Dash had a chance to ask, "Sonic...how'd you get here?"
"That was our doing," Princess Luna said, including her sister in the statement. "When Our sister informed us what had happened with sealing the breach, we suggested a bridge might be more stable. We two bent our power to making the bridge...and we had unexpected help, as he sought to breach through from his side. All this, though," she gestured to the arena, "was our sister's idea."
"Twilight had been researching interworld magic as well, and just as we were able to complete the bridge and bring Sonic through, Twilight wrote me saying you needed a challenge, something to spur you to activity. Putting the two together, I thought this would be a wonderful surprise for you, to discover him for yourself like this." Celestia lowered her head. "Are you angry with me, Rainbow Dash?"
Rainbow Dash ran forward and nuzzled Celestia and Luna. "Not anymore, Princess." She then pulled back and turned to Sonic.
He grinned. "Come on, Dash," he said, his cutie mark glittering. His body then flashed gold as wings spread, and his mane and tail spines pointed upward. "Let's show these foals what it means to truely fly."
Dash smiled, then closed her eyes. Her mane moved in the wind as the colors began to flow...and then she, too, flashed. "Let's fly, Sonic," Rainbow Slash said.
Together, the two flew off into the sky. Just as they reached the edge of any vision, there was a deafening boom, and a curtain of undulating rainbow fire spread across the sky, as the Sonic Rainboom blended with the Sonic Wind, creating a beautiful auroura.